How much money would it take to end world hunger? World Poverty?

Those who can not only get richer, but fleece the poor to get richer. It is like the curse of globalization. To become an international figure is the new vanity, and that needs a heck of a lot of money. Or perhaps it is simply human nature.

I had written earlier about the scams coming out of the woodwork. It seems that the political leadership of our country doesn’t have any moral authority to remain, yet they will persist. Not because they care so desperately, but simply because the vastness and diversity of India as well as its “security” infrastructure pretty much guarantees that no movement large enough will happen that cannot be silenced.

Our moral compass itself is so external, that there are few who will simply stand up and declare that what is happening is not acceptable. People like Kiran Bedi, who could charge then PM Indira Gandhi a parking violation simply don’t come along often.

Which brings to mind her continuing efforts to improve governance and transparency. In a world of much hyped activists, she is what is called a reformer. Who changes her world rather than criticizes the standards of others to defend the rights of someone else. She is speaking out strongly in support of Baba Amte’s protest in favour of getting the LOKPAL bill passed, which of course, the politicians are not particularly enthusiastic about….

This bill is important. A vast country like India keeps developing revenue, potential and power. Misuse of it is like an axe in the hands of a monkey. No one knows what will happen, but its unlikely to be good. These revenues, if engaged for the country can transform the misery of its people. In that post about the scams, I had made a list of the many things we could tick off as blots on India’s name, if the money from the scams were recovered.

We see this in many countries around the world. The Arab world is erupting in protest. Pakistan is suffering from its elites, India is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Africa…. everywhere, it seems like those in power are not interested in sharing the gains. Its like collecting money from your entire class so that you and your best friend can bunk classes to party.

Yet, is it such an impossible task without the greed surrounding it? What would it cost to feed everyone? Every. One. What would it cost to make sure that most people have some amount of money to live on?

The opening lines of Wikipedia’s page on poverty describe poverty as thus:

Poverty is the lack of basic human needs, such as clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter, because of the inability to afford them. This is also referred to as absolute poverty or destitution. Relative poverty is the condition of having fewer resources or less income than others within a society or country, or compared to worldwide averages. About 1.7 billion people live in absolute poverty.

How much money would it take to end world hunger? World poverty? In most of the really poor parts of the world, a dollar or two can cover a day’s expenses. Do the math. With the tremendous resources we have as a developing world, could it be possible to address these issues comprehensively before fighting our wars and other ambitious projects?

If India resolved Kashmir, it could literally afford to pay people out of poverty, as could Pakistan. If US spent on the world for food what it spends on war (and other assorted armed supports), WORLD HUNGER would be history…. with money to spare. But it seems our egos overtake our sense.

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About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

6 Comments on "How much money would it take to end world hunger? World Poverty?"

  1. Incredible to discover that the google search: “what would it cost to feed everyone” only yields one result. In a semantic manner, you truly are unique. Stay strong. The time will come for social justice.

  2. Incredible to discover that the google search: “what would it cost to feed everyone” only yields one result. In a semantic manner, you truly are unique. Stay strong. The time will come for social justice.

  3. Hi Ketan,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree completely.

    I have a very, very rudimentary understanding too, but I think people make it unnecessarily complicated. If a dollar or two can buy one person meals for a day in a poor part of the world, simply multiplying 1.7 billion with 2 gives us 3.4 billion dollars per day, which in a world scale of money, isn’t such a great amount.

    This is world poverty.

    The number of poor in India is about 465 million, which would be 465,000,000 or 46,50,00,000 (Indian style numbering) – 46 crores, give or take. Without any elaborate analysis, using only broad, confirmed amounts, ignoring amounts entirely from scame with unconfirmed amounts (remember the smallest scam is in crores on that list)…. we still have an easy 75,04,000 crores. And we aren’t done with scams yet.

    Doing an outright division gives you about 1,61,376 PER HEAD. There you go. Everybody out of the hunger and poverty list. Over a lakh and a half per head (remember there isn’t just one person in a family) is a lot of money to live very comfortably in rural India. Put it in the bank and the interest will pay the ration bills.

    It may be wrong and I likely don’t know any nuances, but its clear enough to show that this is possible.

  4. Hi Ketan,

    Thanks for your comment. I agree completely.

    I have a very, very rudimentary understanding too, but I think people make it unnecessarily complicated. If a dollar or two can buy one person meals for a day in a poor part of the world, simply multiplying 1.7 billion with 2 gives us 3.4 billion dollars per day, which in a world scale of money, isn’t such a great amount.

    This is world poverty.

    The number of poor in India is about 465 million, which would be 465,000,000 or 46,50,00,000 (Indian style numbering) – 46 crores, give or take. Without any elaborate analysis, using only broad, confirmed amounts, ignoring amounts entirely from scame with unconfirmed amounts (remember the smallest scam is in crores on that list)…. we still have an easy 75,04,000 crores. And we aren’t done with scams yet.

    Doing an outright division gives you about 1,61,376 PER HEAD. There you go. Everybody out of the hunger and poverty list. Over a lakh and a half per head (remember there isn’t just one person in a family) is a lot of money to live very comfortably in rural India. Put it in the bank and the interest will pay the ration bills.

    It may be wrong and I likely don’t know any nuances, but its clear enough to show that this is possible.

  5. Vidyut,

    Thanks for this informative article!

    I was having a general idea that the World indeed produces sufficient resources such that there would be no ‘absolute poverty’ so to say. And yes, one of the reasons for absolute poverty today is unequal distribution of money.

    Those who have surplus money (including people like you and me) decide to spend it on things are not necessary for survival. This money, had it been with the poor, would have been used by them to buy food. But of course, there is this entire-demand supply thing governing the costs of individual commodities. So, am not sure if the price of food would’ve remained the same, but certainly absolute poverty would have still been reduced.

    The other thing that happens is that when we have surplus money and start coveting non-essential products/services, some of the capital and resources that could have been directed towards generation of essential commodities like food get channeled towards production of non-essential commodities that we covet. This effectively creates further scarcity of essential commodities like food, making it further scarce.

    I am no economist, and have a very, very rudimentary understanding of it, but above were the thoughts I have had on the topic and that is why I shared them with you. 🙂

  6. Vidyut,

    Thanks for this informative article!

    I was having a general idea that the World indeed produces sufficient resources such that there would be no ‘absolute poverty’ so to say. And yes, one of the reasons for absolute poverty today is unequal distribution of money.

    Those who have surplus money (including people like you and me) decide to spend it on things are not necessary for survival. This money, had it been with the poor, would have been used by them to buy food. But of course, there is this entire-demand supply thing governing the costs of individual commodities. So, am not sure if the price of food would’ve remained the same, but certainly absolute poverty would have still been reduced.

    The other thing that happens is that when we have surplus money and start coveting non-essential products/services, some of the capital and resources that could have been directed towards generation of essential commodities like food get channeled towards production of non-essential commodities that we covet. This effectively creates further scarcity of essential commodities like food, making it further scarce.

    I am no economist, and have a very, very rudimentary understanding of it, but above were the thoughts I have had on the topic and that is why I shared them with you. 🙂

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